What a joyous way to end an encouraging run of both results and performances. It’s fair to say that the majority of the fanbase were dubious at best when Mark Bowen was appointed as Jose Gomes’ successor - but he is certainly on the right track to changing the minds of those Loyal Royals.
Bowen has continuously repeated his desire to make Reading a hard team to play against, a team that no one is guaranteed any points against. After an unbeaten start to his managerial career - three wins and one draw - the former Stoke City number two is definitely making that desire a reality.
There hasn’t been many football matches at the Mad Stad in recent times where Reading have been in such control from minute one all the way to minute 90. John Swift and Ejaria were, well, they were just John Swift and Ovie Ejaria - a cut above the rest of everybody else on the pitch. Puscas and Baldock showed signs of a partnership forming and the defence rarely looked troubled by a free-scoring Luton Town.
A truly accomplished performance by the Royals and one that certainly got the fans talking after the game. Here are some of the key talking points to arise from the match...
I have been a huge supporter of Swift ever since he joined on a free transfer back in 2016. He has become a scape goat and the person fans tend to blame when it isn’t going well due to his defensive ability. Okay, he may not be great defensively, but he doesn’t need to be - the lad is different gravy, as proven by another silky performance in midfield on Saturday.
The link up between Swifty and the just as talented Ovie Ejaria is a joy to watch sometimes, and the latter has rightly come in for a lot of praise recently but even though the Liverpool loanee managed to get on the scoresheet on Saturday, it was John Swift’s performance that left the fans purring on social media after the game.
Generally speaking - when John Swift plays well, Reading play well and that certainly happened on Saturday afternoon, and long may it continue...
No higher praise than “outfought, outplayed and outclassed”. Swift different grade. Up the biscuit #readingfc— James Day (@James_A_Day) November 9, 2019
Luton are quite possibly one of if not the worst side I have seen at championship level.... swift was excellent today though both on and off the ball.. #readingfc— Gavin Smith (@gavpsmith) November 9, 2019
It's time John Swift got the respect he deserves, a shared Ballon d'Or with Ovie Ejaria #readingfc— Sam ✌️ (@samisam147) November 9, 2019
Goalscorers get the attention, but my, Swift having an excellent game so far.— steven (@cabin__13) November 9, 2019
And speaking of goals, should have another 2 at least if luton don't play any better in 2nd.#ReadingFC
I am loving this new evolution of John Swift, he has got a lot fitter, better mobility and stronger and is turning into a real box to box midfielder, another great game and another man of the match performance #JohnSwift #readingfc #RFC #URZ— #LKsAwayDays (@away_ks) November 9, 2019
Could have been a lot more but a very convincing win. Bowen has got the balance of passing it round at the back and going long just right. Swift completely controlled the game today. Really hope we can continue this form after the international break. #readingfc— Harrison Mitchell (@harrison1871rfc) November 9, 2019
Well that was an enjoyable win, Ejaria and Swift absolute class from the first whistle. Players battled well and won everything.— Jack (@thesimpsonRFC) November 9, 2019
So enjoyable to watch #readingfc
Bowen’s appointment as Manager has reopened the doors for a few players who the door was very much closed for under the helm of Jose Gomes - none more so than Garath McCleary.
McCleary has more than split the opinon of the Reading fanbase over the last few months, should he be in the team? Does he deserve to be treated the way he was by Gomes? And it’s fair to say from the reaction after the game on Twitter that that opinion is still very much split.
The winger is definitely a respected player amongst his teammates and looks to be a fully fledged member of the squad now Bowen is in charge. You do have to take your hat off to him for coming back and looking fitter and stronger than ever, but there are a proportion of the fans who still feel he doesn’t deserve to be in the team...
Let’s not get too carried away- that was his first goal since April 2017 but I agree he could be a useful impact sub.— Jonathan (@jonatha086297) November 10, 2019
Are we now blaming McCleary for Gomes’ failures? I think every #readingfc fan found the way GMac was pushed out left a sour taste...— Trenchcoat (@Adamhumphries44) November 9, 2019
He may offer something buts it’s not more than what Callum Harriott did, but McCleary contract is absolutely ludicrous and he’s a petulant child, a scrappy goal against a terrible Luton side proves nothing #ReadingFC https://t.co/zoAd8VsZI1— Jimbo 2.0 (@DingJimbo) November 9, 2019
I criticised McCleary under Gomes’ reign as Reading manger. QPR and today shows I was wrong. There’s nothing more I want to see than McCleary scoring goals and playing well in a Reading shirt. #readingfc— Jamie Tillen (@JamieTillen7) November 9, 2019
Really pleased for McCleary as well today, Bowen making some clever decisions to bring the squad together and proving players who were previously exiled under Gomes can have a real impact #readingfc— Tom Maynard (@ttmaynard) November 9, 2019
A complete performance
The balance that Bowen is finding between playing more direct - winning second balls and defending solidly - and passing it around on the deck, getting Ejaria and Swift on the ball as much as possible is starting to become very rewarding.
There is no doubt, when you have players like Swift and Ejaria, they need to be on the ball as much as possible - and Bowen is managing to do that whilst also becoming a bit more no nonsense in defence, which is a huge positive.
Saturday was the most complete performance from a Reading team in a very long time, and performances like that will go a long way to helping us climb up the table and and a long way to helping Bowen gain some support from the Reading faithful, like he did after the game on Saturday afternoon...
Good solid performance today. As comfortable a win at home as we’ve had for a while. #readingfc— Rob Molloy (@Dobcheck73) November 9, 2019
Another great performance by the mighty Ding. Could have easily been 5 in the first half and more in the second half. Thought Swift had an amazing game in particular and some of the football we played was an absolute joy to watch. Hopefully we can keep it up #readingfc— Oli Bryant (@OliB_RFC) November 9, 2019
Absolutely terrific performance all round today. Massive shout out to Yiadom and Richards, both putting in magnificent shifts in on either side. Great to see GMac back in the team and scoring. Credit to Bowen as well. Doubted him but proving me wrong big time. #readingfc— Ed Ryding (@EdRyding) November 9, 2019
Great team performance, Luton were bloody awful but you can only beat what’s in front of you! #readingfc I sense a run for promotion!— Darren Seward (@darrenjseward) November 9, 2019
Brilliant performance today. Thought we were in control from the first minute. Was really disappointed by #LTFC (team and fans) -thought they’d put up more of a fight felt like a cup game. Next 2 are tough but don’t see why we can’t get results if we play like that ⚪️ #readingfc— Louis Stagg (@dinglouis_) November 9, 2019
Say it very quietly, but I'd say under Bowen we might be getting better by the game. Compare today's performance with the first one against PNE. Roll on Brentford away. #ReadingFC— Blue & White Jester (@bw_jester_rfc) November 9, 2019
There wasn't one bad #readingfc performance today. Everyone worked hard until the end. I'd rather keep going with the momentum but hopefully we carry on where we left off after the international break. Signing off the tweet with 2 words. Ovie Ejaria— smudger (@smujjii87) November 9, 2019
10 points from a possible 12, three goals and a clean sheet. Happy days.
It’s starting to feel good being a Reading fan again, the players are leaving their blood, sweat and tears on the pitch after every game and that’s all we can ask. If the players continue to do that, when you have players like John Swift and Ovie Ejaria in the team too, you’re always likely to get a result.
Another international break now *sighs* but we’re back against Brentford in two weeks.